Book of 1 Peter, part two

Here’s the conclusion of my first impressions of the book of 1 Peter.  If you missed part one you can check it out HERE.

For listening this time around, I’m linking the song For the Sake of the World by Bethel Live.  I love this song because I think it gets rid of a bad stereotype.  Christians don’t despise the people of this world.  My heart breaks for those who don’t know the love of Jesus Christ.  I want nothing more than to share that love with anyone who will listen.  I don’t look down my nose at those who don’t know Jesus, I see them with love and I have a burning desire in my heart that they’ll come to know and to love Jesus.  That’s why I love this song so much.  This song doesn’t call out for Godly power for personal use, it’s a cry that God can use us to help reach those who need to be reached.  I find that to be incredibly beautiful.  CLICK HERE to listen while you read.

VERSES THAT JUMPED

I’m going to be honest, It’s been a long time since I felt persecuted for being a Christian.  It happened to me several times as a teenager, but over the past few months as I’ve rededicated my life to God it hasn’t happened.  I feel confident it’s only a matter of time, however, and the next verse is something that really speaks to this issue.

1 Peter 2:15  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

I love what Peter is saying with this verse.  Openly following Jesus is going to lead us into ridicule at some point, it’s just a fact.  What’s the best way to counter these attacks?  Live a holy, Godly life.  If we’re walking a true biblical walk, if we’re abiding in Jesus and loving Jesus and keeping his commandments, how can we be ridiculed?  What are they going to say?  Look at that guy, he’s kind and loving and works hard and …. uh… I hate him!  At some point, you will find yourself ridiculed and/or persecuted for being a follower of Jesus.  But, 1 Peter 2:15 is not just giving us a good answer to the ridicule, it’s telling us that “this is the will of God”.  Do good, live holy, and you’re going to shut up a lot of people.  You’re going to remove their ability to ridicule and attack you.  And in the process, you’re going to be shining brightly as an example of what a true Godly person looks like.

A few verses later, there’s something that’s just really simple that I enjoyed a lot.

1 Peter 2:17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Sometimes I think the bible is at it’s most deep when it speaks simply.  Honor everyone.  I don’t love the behavior of some people, but I love all people.  If someone has a foul mouth or has some terrible vices, that doesn’t make them unworthy of love.  God loves them, they are still his child no matter how lost they might be.  Peter isn’t telling us to love someone’s sin, but he is saying to honor everyone.  Every person is a creation of God, and God doesn’t slip up, he doesn’t accidentally make life.  The least I can do is honor and love people, even if I might not agree with everything they say or do.

Love the brotherhood.  Here Peter focuses in on the brotherhood, which in modern days I would say is like your spiritual family or church family.  I think when you’re in the right church and your heart is right with God, this one almost comes naturally.  At my church I find myself wanting to hug everyone.  These are my people, the Godly warriors I stand side by side with.  I’m sure that not all of them are best friend material, but it’s important to honor them, because they are my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Fear God.  Man, have I struggled with this for my whole lifetime.  Why would a God who is all about love want me to fear him?  The bible says love, love, love, and then every once in a while you get this one.  Fear God.  Which is it?  Love or fear?  Well, it’s both.  I don’t fear God striking me down, and I don’t think that’s what Peter is saying.  I fear displeasing God.  He loves me so much, he has given me everything.  He’s my father, and when you love and respect your father there is an aspect of fear there.  You fear disappointing them.  You fear doing anything that might cause someone to dislike them.  When I write these blogs I have a deep fear of writing something that might lead someone astray.  That, to me, fits with what Peter is saying.  It’s a fear of God born out of my love for him and my desire to accurately represent him.

Honor the emperor.  Oh my Christian brothers and sisters, I know many of us struggle with this one.  The bible speaks several times about having respect for those in authority over us.  Unless the government is forcing you to compromise your belief in Jesus, the bible speaks several times about respecting the rulers in our world.

Another simple yet beautiful verse that I love comes in chapter 3.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

Not a ton needs to be said about this one, it just really spoke to me.  What a great list of qualities to develop in ourselves.  When you boil a lot of it down, it’s amazing to me how much of the bible just comes down to the simple concepts of loving people and being kind.

One of my greatest, if not my greatest struggle over the years has been about the end of the world.  Armageddon, tribulation, the rapture, the entire book of Revelations, it’s all filled me with fear for my entire life.  God’s been working on me a ton about this over the past few months, and I can say that through increased wisdom from the Lord and some incredible teachers in my life, those fears I’ve held for 34 years have subsided greatly.  I’m still not incredibly enthused about the end of the world, but I do have peace about it now, because I know that God is in control and what he has for me beyond this life is going to be great indeed.  I say all this because the first part of this next verse deals with this subject.

1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

It seems crazy to me that even in 64/65 ad when Peter wrote this he was already talking about the end of all things being near.  Here we are 1,950 years later, and I gotta say that it’s not impossible to believe that we’re nearing the return of Jesus.  Of course, people have been saying that for a long time, and the bible makes it clear that no one actually knows.  However, I think 1 Peter 4:7 makes a great point.  What does it mean to be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of our prayers?  I think it means to keep them focused on what really matters.  I think it means that maybe praying for the Texas Rangers to turn around their season and make the playoffs or praying for your favorite TV  show to get renewed by the network may not be the best use of your prayer time.  Prayer is our chance to have a conversation with the almighty God of the universe.  The bible says that God is my friend and my father, and while I do feel like I can talk to him about anything I think Peter’s suggestion is a solid one.  Very few people spend any significant time in prayer each day, so maybe spend whatever prayer time you do have focused on the Godly things, the soul matters, the cries for help and healing, and the lifting up of the lost souls around us.

The final verse I want to talk about came as something of a surprise to me.  I think of the devil as a defeated enemy.  I know he’s real, and I know that he’s a ruiner of lives and a destroyer of souls.  But in my mind, I never really pictured him as a looming threat to me.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

I know I have the power to resist the devil, the bible tells me so.  But this verse made me realize that it’s dangerous not to stay mindful that the devil is out there, hoping I’ll trip up and give him a chance to get at me.  Peter draws a very vibrant picture here.  A roaring lion prowling around you, seeking someone to devour.  Can you imagine how scary it would be to have a hungry lion circling you, watching and waiting and scheming and hoping you fall so he can feast on you?  That’s scary!  Peter draws that exact picture.  The devil isn’t off somewhere else, only concerned with lost souls.  He’s circling me and he’s circling you, looking for any opening to get at us.  So just like Peter says, be watchful.  Be sober-minded, be careful.  The devil would love nothing more than to interrupt your walk with Jesus or to cause you to stumble or doubt.  Peter offers up a great reminder to stay vigilant and guard ourselves against this.

That concludes my first impressions of 1 Peter, but I’m not going to move on from the book just yet.  There’s another verse in 1 Peter that struck me as hugely important, so I’m going to do a full blog post just about it next time.

For prayers this time, I want to return to the song I linked to.  Let’s pray that God burns like a fire in us, so that we may be a light to those around us who are lost in the darkness.  I want to be bolder, I want to burn brighter, not for my glory, but so that I can help introduce those who are unaware to God’s glory and his love and his incredible gift of salvation.

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